If it weren’t grounds for removal it wouldn’t be surprising if members of the Desert Vista scout team were able to hum a few bars of the Hamilton fight song.
Or at the very least know the Huskies’ key plays as well as they know their own.
The Thunder face Hamilton for the fourth time in a span of about 13 months on Friday when they meet at Hamilton for the Division I quarterfinals. It makes it easy to see how these two top programs might know each other inside and out.
Knowing the opposition’s fight song might be a stretch, but knowing when a stretch dive play might be coming is not.
“It doesn’t happen a lot, but it’s what we are looking at,” Thunder coach Dan Hinds said. “There’s a familiarity there, tendencies you can pick up on but the whole strategical piece is still there.”
It’s a common occurrence in the NFL where teams play their division opponents twice a year and those games are usually closely battled simply because of the familiarity it breeds. But at the high school level playing an opponent twice a year requires the brackets to line up to enforce a postseason meeting (unless there are traveling restrictions imposed like in the Yuma school district).
The Huskies won the two regular season meetings, but the Thunder won the big one at last year’s state title game.
Now comes another playoff meeting.
Desert Vista (9-2) believes it can do it again. Hamilton (9-2) enters on a nine-game winning streak and hasn’t lost at home since Oct. 22, 2004.
It’s a string of 53 straight home wins. Sound familiar? It should.
The Huskies had won 53 straight games overall before last year’s title game that ended when Desert Vista won 45-19.
Crazy coincidence or fate?
Tough to tell, but game planning for a fourth meeting in a short period can be just as compelling.
“It goes both ways I think,” Hinds said if it is an advantage or not. “You are looking at like, ‘Well, we know what they like to do but are they going to do that or are they going to come up with another plan?’ They are doing the same thing. We both have great coaching staffs.
“We pulled some fast ones on them in the state game and they came out this last game (a 23-13 win for Hamilton) and had some things we hadn’t seen before.
“There is going to be a lot of feeling each other out.”
The Thunder players, especially the seniors, aren’t being very touchy feely or nostalgic about another meeting with the Huskies.
“There is a sense of urgency now,” wide receiver Kaleb Germinaro said. “We were juniors last year and we wanted to win, but now we have to win. I don’t feel like going home and I don’t want to think about college just yet.”
The Hamilton defense might have something to say about it as the unit has been the Huskies’ strength all year with the offense finding its way at times.
The Thunder only had 126 yards rushing (97 passing) in the first meeting this season and Hamilton scored nine points in the final two minutes before the half on a safety and short field after the free kick.
It led 16-0 and was enough for the win even though the Thunder defense did a good job of holding Hamilton to about 250 yards of offense.
The Huskies just made bigger plays in the end, like an interception in the end zone by Levi Sterling with 3 minutes left, to secure the win.
“It took me awhile to look at the game again,” Hinds said. “In fact, I didn’t look at it until we knew we were playing them again. It was a relatively close football game. We made a few mistakes.
“It comes down to show up ready to play.”
No worries there.
“From now (Monday) until (game time) there is the preparation piece of it,” Hinds said. “All of the other (hype) stuff is a waste of time. To think about it now is a waste of time, but come 7 o’clock on Friday they’ll be ready. We don’t have to give a pump up speech for this game.”
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